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What is Chemistry?

Worldwide employment of American-trained chemists has quickly increased in the past few years. Students are being presented with new opportunities to study in medical- and natural-chemistry-related fields. It is an exciting time for students to study chemistry, and the OU Chemistry Department gives students an opportunity to take part in stimulating research opportunities while receiving their degree. Currently OU students are working on important research such as drug discovery from natural organisms, improving antibiotics for drug resistant infections, improving the efficiency of solar panel cells, computational chemistry applications, and biomaterials for nanotechnology and nanomedicine. Incoming students will not only have established research to work on, but will also be encouraged to develop their own research goals.

Students will also have opportunities to study with professors who are active researchers. For example, students assist Drs. Valentin Rybenkov and Helen Zgurskaya, who received a $5.7 million five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health to research drug-resistant bacteria, and other faculty who have worked on a wide variety of projects.

So, what's my degree?

A chemistry student graduates with a Bachelor of Science in chemistry degree. Students who wish to further their education can receive Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

Many chemistry students continue their education by pursuing graduate-level studies.

Do my interests fit?

Chemistry students typically have interests in:

  • Physical and/or biological sciences
  • Research
  • Have a deep desire to understand the connection between chemistry and the world around us  

How can OU Chemistry help me?

Students will have access to a diverse faculty who work on a wide variety of issues, with the ability to gain valuable hands-on research experience to help decide if research is the proper path for them. These faculty mentors will also be a helpful source of information when students are looking for a graduate program with a focus on their area of research. In addition, some of our special topics courses and our capstones integrate a professional development component to help students who plan to find work immediately after graduation.

How can I get involved?

The Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry has developed a new program to assist incoming freshman chemistry/biochemistry majors succeed at OU. It is designed to assist the student who wishes to seek a degree in one of our majors but may need a little additional assistance to reach their true potential.

Approximately 19-20 students will be invited to join the Chemistry Learning Community. These students will be selected through an application process. The selected consort will take a course each semester taught by faculty from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. This course will be a one- or two-credit hour class and will augment the first- and second-year chemistry curriculum.

Faculty teaching the additional courses will also serve in a mentoring role. This mentor is not intended to replace the formal advising by professional advisors in University College, rather offer more detailed information on courses, careers, and pitfalls the student might encounter.

The department will interface with various student service and support systems already in place on campus, including advising, career services, and financial aid in order to offer consistent information to the student regarding these services so important to a student’s success.

We know from our own personal experiences and from observing graduating class after class of undergraduates that students who participate in faculty-mentored undergraduate research are much more likely to have successful careers in a STEM field or in professional health related areas. Thus, we are committed to providing our students with these opportunities.

We have partnered with the Honors College to offer a Four Year Research Experience (FYRE). In Spring 2015 we had about 70 participants in this program with about half doing 10-12 hours per week of research in chemistry/biochemistry faculty labs. Many of these students continue with research in the following years. Participation in FYRE is not required to join a research team. Many students join a research lab during their sophomore or junior years and complete a senior thesis. Many of our undergraduate researchers receive undergraduate Research funding awards, present posters at the campus-wide Undergraduate Research Day each spring, travel to scientific conferences, and see their research work published.

Other organizations and programs chemistry majors may want to be a part of:

What courses will I take?

Chemistry courses include:

  • General Chemistry I and II
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Organic Chemistry I and II
  • Physical Chemistry I & II
  • Introduction to Biochemistry
  • Instrumental Methods of Chemical Analysis lecture and lab
  • Advanced Inorganic Chemistry
  • Advanced Synthesis and Spectral Characterization

How can I study abroad?

OU has numerous study abroad opportunities for students of all majors. Whether you want to take electives, lower-division courses, or major requirements, be sure to check out what education abroad opportunities are available to you through the College of International Studies. 

What kind of career could I pursue?

Careers range from hands-on lab work to medical related fields to working in business with various companies. It is impossible to briefly describe all the job opportunities available. Students are encouraged to check the following websites for more information:

These are a few examples of career fields for chemistry majors:

  • Hospitals
  • Universities
  • Agriculture
  • Food institutes
  • Education
  • Cosmetics
  • Forensic crime research
  • Drug discovery and development
  • A variety of industries

How much will I make?

Visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website to explore the median pay for jobs you can pursue with this degree. 

Program Accreditation

The Chemistry Department is fully accredited by the American Chemical Society.

Contact Us

OU Department of Chemistry
Phone: (405) 325-4121